It is understandable for teachers to wonder why we should prioritize assessment of faith connections across the curriculum when we consider the time pressures to teach what must be tested to meet government or professional standards, and the reality that some content areas are more conducive to analyzing faith foundations than others. A closer look, however, shows that deeper learning is facilitated across the curriculum when a Christian teacher includes opportunities for students to consider the discipline of study and course content through the lens of their faith.
Michael Essenburg (2010, p. 10) suggests 5 ways in which assessment can help students deepen connections between God’s world and Word:
- Assessment guides student perceptions of the value of learning activities. Our answer to questions such as, “Will this be tested?” indicates a level of importance. What is not to be tested is less likely to be studied.
- Assessment increases the likelihood of quality instruction on faith connections. We are more likely to intentionally plan for learning activities that share examples and develop critical thinking about the course content from faith perspectives if we plan to assess this learning. We are more likely to teach what we choose to assess.
- Assessment creates space for students to reflect on faith connections. From individual to group reflection on essential questions, to projects and presentations documenting application of biblical principles to an issue connecting core concepts in a class, or through service using a skill learned, reflection requires focused and integrative reasoning that increases the depth of understanding of the connections between faith, learning, and living.
- Assessment gives students opportunities to practice making faith connections. Practice increases procedural knowledge. When students have opportunities to answer open-ended or essential questions at multiple points through a course of study, in diverse contexts, they will develop reflective critical thinking skills that are likely transferable to other spheres of learning.
- Assessment gives teachers opportunities to provide feedback on faith connections. Formative assessment can and should respect individual student’s faith journey, encouraging personal connections between faith, learning and living.
The form assessment takes differs with the nature of the course of study as well as with the level of education. How might you include at least one thoughtful discussion and one assessment of faith connections, respecting faith traditions other than Christianity, in each course you teach this year?
Consider these practical online resources as you ponder this question:
- How does measuring student application of Biblical perspective help?
- Using the Visual Valet as a Christian framework for connecting faith, learning, and living
- Making any question essential
Note: Article written and posted in English